Five Observer-area players were named to the 2018 MaxPreps sophomore All-American team.
On offense, Indian Trail Sun Valley wide receiver Gavin Blackwell, and Kings Mountain receiver Kobe Paysour were named to the first team. Paysour caught 79 passes for 1,732 yards and 26 touchdowns, setting new school records in three categories. Blackwell caught 51 passes for 1,136 yards and 19 scores.
On defense, Vance High’s Power Echols made first team. Echols, a linebacker, was the Charlotte Observer’s “All-Observer” and “All-Mecklenburg” defensive player of the year. He was also voted the Associated Press N.C. all-state defensive player of the year.
Echols, MaxPreps said, “has a chance to be one of the best players to ever come out of North Carolina.” He had 160 tackles, nine sacks and 19 tackles for a loss.
▪ Weddington’s Will Shipley, who helped lead his team to the N.C. 3AA state championship, made second team offense after rushing for more than 1,400 yards and 19 touchdowns.
Shelby’s Jack Hollifield -- younger brother of Virginia Tech linebacker Dax -- made second team defense. Jack Hollifield helped Shelby to a fifth state title in six years with 137 tackles, 16 for a loss, five sacks and an interception.